Six Horrible Ceremonial First Pitches -- A Video Anthology

I preface this post, a post where I'm about to ridicule people for making awful ceremonial first pitches at professional baseball games, by saying that I would dread throwing out a first pitch at a baseball game. I would be a nervous wreck all day long leading up to it thinking about what row I'd launch the ball into.

Hell, I dropped the ceremonial first puck at an Aeros playoff game back in June and I was nervous all day, and dropping stuff is something I'm actually good at.

For the record, the closest I've come to doing a ceremonial athletic endeavor on a baseball field was my tenth-place finish in the World Kolache Eating Championships in 2007. Tenth out of ten.

So with the appropriate allotment of respect for the moment and disrespect for the wretched execution, and without further ado, I give you my Ceremonial First Pitch Hall of Shame (with a brand new first ballot entry at the end, newly enshrined yesterday):

6. Washington Wizards point guard JOHN WALL

Comment: I'm a firm believer in the old school thought process that kids should play multiple sports. I was brought up in a house where my brothers and I played soccer, baseball, basketball and football, sometimes during the same seasons. We would literally go from a soccer practice, change uniforms in the car and play in a Little League game. It's not that way anymore. In the high stakes era of AAU basketball, travel baseball and Title IX, parents who want their kids to truly compete are forced to have them choose one sport. Therefore, I feel John Wall spiking the ball into the ground like a two-year-old learning to throw for the first time is a metaphor for a bigger societal issue, and it's this -- let kids play multiple sports, parents! Or someday your Wooden Award-caliber hoops son or daughter will wrap up the blooper reel on



5. Olympic gymnast SHAWN JOHNSON

Comment: Another athlete whose daily agenda was probably apportioned as follows:

Sleep: 5 hours Homework: 2 hours Eating: 48 seconds Gymnastics: 16 hours, 59 minutes, 12 seconds

As a female, throwing it underhand softball-style would have been acceptable. Well, more acceptable than spiking the ball into the grass.

The good news for Johnson is that now she has a YouTube video that has supplanted her embarrassing Ortega taco commercial with the Hamm brothers.

Seriously, how do the police not show up on the set looking for the person who scripted those lines for a teenage girl?

4. Track and field gold medalist (and noted musician) CARL LEWIS

This throw was actually not all that surprising. At all.

This also officially made Carl Lewis a two-sport star when in the category of "Butchering Long Standing Pregame Traditions." Before the opening pitch, we all remember this...

Now all we need is for him to drag the infield with a bulldozer before the game and he will have officially fucked up everything before the actual first pitch would even be thrown.


Comment: Chivalry bonus points for the late George Steinbrenner for allowing his wife to throw out the first pitch. Negative chivalry bonus points for firing her after she bounced the pitch four feet in front of her.


Comment: I think you can tell a lot about a city by seeing how their leaders handle public situations like ceremonial first pitches. So as best I can tell from Mallory's pitch, Cincinnati has gridlock traffic, no running water, shitty schools and the highest herpes rate of any civilized metropolitan area.

1. Former MLB outfielder DOUG GLANVILLE This happened yesterday and is the first pitch that inspired me to post on this topic. Observe...

Now while Glanville's pitch is by far the one that actually looks somewhat normal (who among us hasn't sailed one over our buddy's head during a drunken game of catch?), Glanville gets the biggest bust in my Hall of Shame for the following reasons:

1. Glanville was sober, which is an egregious error in Wrigley Field even if you're not sailing the first pitch halfway up the backstop.

2. Glanville used the old school "crank the arm up, winding" motion before throwing. This is a funny thing to do if you're starring in a silent movie and getting ready to pelt someone with a projectile. In 2011, it's hacky.

3. Glanville is a goddamn former major leaguer! He spent about a decade in the big leagues as a member of the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers, including a 204-hit season in 1999. He's now a very solid analyst on ESPN. If you used to play baseball at any level, let alone the highest level in the free world, you have to hit the mitt, Doug! You threw that one like they just pulled you out of a cubicle in Accounts Receivable.

Doug Glanville is now 40 years old; he played in the big leagues from ages 26 through 33. Baseball-reference.com has a feature where it shows by age which other baseball players a player is most similar to. Here are Glanville's:

26. Russ Snyder 27. Buzz Boyle 28. Doc Cramer 29. Woody Jensen 30. Randy Winn 31. Mookie Wilson 32. Mookie Wilson (yes, twice) 33. Joe Orsulak

If I may add:

40. John Wall

Listen to Sean Pendergast on Sporting News Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and 1560 The Game from noon to 3PM weekdays, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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